July 16th - August 17th, 2021
Lisa DeLong’s new body of work, largely completed during lockdown, explores geometry as a language of creation. Each work is constructed using humanity’s ancient creative tools, the compass and square. Inspiration comes first and foremost from the Order of Nature, the proportions and harmonies governing cosmos from the hexagonal crystals of a snowflake, to the five-fold petals of a rose, to the musical planetary dance of our solar system. These fundamental geometric realities find profound expression in the arts and architecture of all traditional cultures, perhaps most notably in the Islamic world’s mastery of geometric patterning. Around the globe, geometry and its tools have long been associated with Divine order. In ancient China, the primordial couple Fu Shi and Nuwa hold square and compass as they preside over the heavens. Medieval European illuminations show the Divine Architect scribing the boundaries of the earth with his dividers. Ottoman court architects wielded richly engraved compasses as they designed the sacred spaces for public worship. These tools remain fundamentally unchanged through human history and are central to the creation of each work in this exhibition. The discipline of geometry not only generates beautiful designs, but in itself it can also become a meditative, prayerful, and devotional practice. Lisa’s geometry teachers, Professors Keith Critchlow and Paul Marchant, inspired their students to not only master the technical aspects of the craft but to explore a universal geometric order of nature and traditional art. For each work, a primary pattern source is listed, most often an architectural monument from the Islamic world. These masterpieces of cultural expression and religious devotion not only represent the skill of masters through the centuries and the culmination of dynamic periods of intellectual exchange, but they also continue to inspire artists and craftspeople around the world today. During the lockdown period, a community of geometers around the globe began sharing their knowledge. Lisa, as part of her work for the School of Traditional Arts in London, developed a rich offering of online geometry courses with teachers and students coming from over 100 different countries and widely varied traditions. Several of the pieces in this exhibition have emerged directly from engaging with this online community, as both teacher and as student. Lisa is Outreach Programme Manager for the Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts, designing and conducting educational workshops and training teachers for the School’s international programmes in Azerbaijan, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Malaysia, Philippines, China, and Pakistan. Both the patterns and the raw materials of these paintings are informed by Lisa’s travels and research for the School of Traditional Arts. Many of the paints and pigments are refined from earth, soil, and semiprecious stones gathered throughout the world.